Tech support scams are a problem worldwide, with 3 out of 5 people having experienced one in the past year and 1 in 5 losing money to the fraudsters, according to a global survey released by Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in October 2018

Each month, Microsoft receives about 11,000 complaints from people across the globe who have been the victim of a tech support scam. For years, scammers have tricked consumers into handing over control of their computers and personal information by peddling bogus security software and services over the phone. To scope this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned a new survey in 16 countries to look at tech support scams and their impact on consumers.

Canadian results from the 2018 survey revealed:

  • Canadians who have been exposed to a tech scam dropped slightly from 75% in 2016 to 67% in 2018 and 3% reported losing money, down one point from 2016.
  • Gen Z, Millennials and males are most vulnerable to tech support scams
    • Younger users engaged in riskier online behavior such as visiting torrent sites
    • They also have greater familiarity with technology than older generations and are potentially hurt by overconfidence in their device and Web expertise
  • While these numbers demonstrate incremental improvements, loss of money and time are still prevalent, resulting in significant stress for consumers
    • Among those Canadians who experienced a scam, 40% ended up spending time checking and repairing their PC
    • 77% Canadians who continued with a scam – that is, consumers who encountered a scam and at least initially started doing what was asked/did not just ignore it – reported suffering from moderate to severe stress due to the fraudulent interaction